Je Suis Mira Mesa

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The Grandfather

 

This holiday column was originally published in 2017. Befitting it’s popularity with the readers, it’s being reissued this year. Hope you will enjoy it the second time around as much as the first. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Chicago is where this story starts, it’s my home town. It’s December, late December just a few days before Christmas in 1976. Life was great, I was in the process of negotiating for a new job that would bring me and my family to sunny, snow free Mira Mesa in early 1978.

I was driving on Michigan Ave. on my way to the old neighborhood. At a stop light, about to enter the stretch known as the “Magnificent Mile”, I noticed the driver next to me was crying as was a woman walking on the sidewalk. I shrugged it off as I was listening to Christmas music on a new cassette tape. I continued on my way to visit my folks who lived in the shadows of Wrigley Field. Mom was at the kitchen table crying, Dad was sitting quietly just staring at the TV… Da Mayor, Richard J. Daley had died that afternoon! An era had come to a crushing end for the majority of Chicagoans. Here’s a YouTube link to Steve Goodman’s very moving song “Daley’s Gone”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9G-Po_b3S-o

I can’t begin to imagine anything remotely similar happening for any San Diego Mayor of the last 40 years.

Hizzoner, Da Mayor was a genuine legend in Chicago. He proudly had no aspirations to higher office, Cook County, Illinois Governor or Senator, None, Nada, No way. No how!!!  Da Mayor loved Chicago and Chicago loved him back. For 21 years he ignored rules, he bent the law, he did it the best way, his way, and always in the best interest of his beloved Chicago. Without Da Mayor, JFK, almost certainly, would never have been the Democratic nominee for president in 1960. I still wonder what he got for Chicago from old Joe Kennedy for that?

Let me tell you a bit about how Da Mayor’s Chicago worked back in the day. They didn’t have gender neutral “Council Representatives” and they didn’t have Council Districts. No, not Chicago… that “City of Broad Shoulders”, they simply had Aldermen and Wards, 50 of each!

My folks lived in the 45th Ward, Charlie Weber was their Alderman. He lived on the corner of Addison St. and Wolcott Ave., the same Addison St. that goes by Wrigley Field.  Charlie owned a Bierstube on Southport Ave. next to St. Alphonsus Church and, of course, his local office was in the rear of the Bierstube! I believe that he was one of the last of the, once numerous, saloon-keeper politicians in Chicago. Street need cleaning? Tree need pruning? Sidewalk cracked? Stop by the saloon for a beer and talk to Charlie, problem solved in a few short weeks… without any doubt!

Can any of you imagine our Mira Mesa, gender neutral, “Council Representative” having a local office in one of our many local craft breweries today? I just got a case of the giggles thinking about it.

Almost forty years ago a young man left Chicago, but Chicago refuses to leave the old man. So now, one more time, with a tear in my eye, I gratefully wish Hizzhonor, Da Mayor a very heart felt Merry Christmas.

Je Suis Mira Mesa

December 2017 & 2018